Tag: confidence

Poking around in restaurant kitchens

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Canalside, Amiens, France

The sun was glinting off the water as we walked along the canal side in Amiens in search of something to eat. The colourful restaurants all had tempting menus, but too many days of eating the three course ‘menus’ and a tightening waistband meant that I was looking for a smaller lunch.

Then I spotted it – a café that had one of my favourites, something that we rarely find in Britain. Galettes.

The waiter saw me looking and smiled ‘Bonjour Madam’, indicating the favoured waterside seating. But I refused to sit immediately.

Indicating the board displaying their offerings I asked in my best schoolgirl French. ‘Are you absolutely sure that your galettes are 100% buckwheat?’

‘Oui, madam, pas gluten.’ He replied, pulling out a chair for me.

This type of conversation is an everyday event for me. I have to be mindful and assertive to look after my health. Sometimes I even go and look in the restaurant kitchen to make sure the chefs understand how to prepare gluten free food.

I have Coeliac (Celiac) disease and that means I can’t eat even the tiniest amount of gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains and any meals made with these foods are out of bounds.

Au revoir Croissant, au revoir bagette, au revoir patisserie. And even goodbye to a whole range of foods and condiments containing ‘hidden’ gluten. These range from some ice creams and milk shakes, beer through to soy sauce.

This set me to pondering how others with this disease who may be less assertive than me, manage. I’m guessing they may sometimes eat meals they aren’t completely convinced are gluten free. Then they spend some time rushing to the loo and wishing they had been more persistent.

I wondered, too, how many other ways lack of assertiveness might effect your health.

Not ‘bothering’ the doctor

Passive people sometimes don’t want to bother the doctor with ‘little’ symptoms. They convince themselves that the doctor is busy and, after all, their symptoms are ‘nothing to worry about.’ Or they do think the symptoms are worrying but leave getting medical attention until things are too late.

Not pushing for appropriate tests

Doctors are busy people and sometimes don’t want to refer patients on for more specialised help. Passive people may sit in their consulting room wanting more but failing to be insistent. Result? They go away with a nagging feeling that more should be done.

Not asking questions

I sometimes wonder if doctors have training on how to get patients out of the door as quickly as possible. It sure seems like it, and that can lead many passive people to scuttle out without their questions asked, much less answered.

How to deal with these situations

My tip is to write down what you want before you leave home. Write down what you want to ask and what you want to happen. If appropriate, do some research beforehand so that you know what is appropriate for your symptoms or condition. And don’t feel you are wasting the doctor’s time. After all, without patients they’d be out of work! Your health is important, look after it.

If you want to know more about how to be assertive you’ll find many tips in my book ‘How to be Assertive’ available through Amazon and other e-book sellers.

* Despite the name, buckwheat isn’t wheat, but part of the rhubarb family and so safe for Coeliacs to eat.

Is life one catastrophe after another?

Interview and key concept
Keeping cool is the key to great interviews

James opened the letter excitedly. Yes! 

He punched the air triumphantly. He’d done it. He’d got an interview for a job he really wanted. Now for the preparation. He’d already done quite a bit at the application stage. He’d researched the organisation and the vacancy. He’d worked out exactly how his skills matched those they needed. He’d worked out the questions they were likely to ask, based on the Person Specification. And he’d decided how he would answer them.

On the day of the interview, he looked great. Best suit and tie, new haircut, shiny shoes. He sat on the train reading through his notes again, feeling as confident as he could be.

Then the train ground to a halt.

James wasn’t worried, he’d got about half an hour leeway. Nonetheless, he found himself looking at his watch every minute or two. It was fully ten minutes later before an announcement came over the loudspeakers:

We apologise for the delay, ladies and gentlemen. This is due to an engine failure. Another train is on its way. It should be here in about forty minutes. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Groans were heard from every part of the carriage, James noticed. He also noticed that everyone then got on with what they were doing, reading; chatting; sleeping.

But not him.

His mind went into panic mode. I’ll be late! They’ll think I’m hopeless! If I don’t get this job, I’ll be out of work for years! It’s taken me forty three applications to get this one interview. I’ll never get another! At my age, no-one will want to employ me.

He started to sweat, his breaths became shallower and faster, his heart raced and he felt faint. He couldn’t think straight.

James had been struck by faulty thinking – he was catastrophising.

Because of his negative assumptions that everything would be catastrophic, his thinking went haywire and he assumed the worst. Catastrophic thinking will do that to you.

Eventually, James remembered that he read somewhere that taking a few deep breaths while relaxing his shoulders was a good way to get in control of his feelings. He tried it. To his surprise, it worked. He could think again.

He got out his mobile phone, called the company he was going to see and explained the situation. They were fine with him, and agreed to add him to the end of their list of candidates for the day.

*** Try this! *** 

 If you find yourself catastrophising, catch that thought. It stops you acting logically and assertively. Like James, take some deep breaths while you relax your body. Say to yourself Calm, calm. You’ll soon get back in control. Then you can work out what you can do about the situation.

Ask yourself questions like:

What’s the worst that can happen?

How likely is it that the worst will happen?

What is more likely to happen?

How can I help myself now to deal with this situation?

Using these simple techniques can make your life a lot calmer. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Have you tried these techniques? How did you get on?

Nine ways to be happier

Image of happy woman with outstretched arms standing in field
Want to feel this good? Follow these easy steps.

You may be wondering why I am writing about happiness when this is a blog on assertiveness. The truth is that it’s easier to be assertive when you are feeling good. It gives you an inner strength, a resilience that supports you through even difficult conversations. Which of these suggestions can you use?

Be Sociable – spend time with people who make you feel good. Make face to face connections with colleagues, friends and family. Try to stop seeing people who make you feel bad.

Look after your body – it’s hard to feel happy if you are feeling unwell, sluggish or have regular hangovers. Eat well, drink alcohol in moderation.

Exercise – some people think this means going to the gym or doing a marathon, but that’s not the case. Just get moving. If your job is sedentary, get up about once an hour and walk around, have a good stretch. Go for a walk in your lunch break. Take the dog for a walk. Walk up stairs instead of taking the lift.

Sleep Well – follow a sleep routine to get 7 to 8 hours sleep each night. No screens of any sort for an hour before bedtime. A dark bedroom with a comfortable temperature. No alcohol (it may make you fall asleep but you’ll wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to get back to sleep)

Have goals for your life – these can be small goals like getting a piece of work done, bigger goals like getting fit or losing weight, or life changing goals like finding a new partner or a new job. Write your goals somewhere where you can see them regularly. Imagine what life will be like when you’ve achieved them then work backwards step by step drawing up your action plan.

Spent time in nature – do some gardening, take a walk in your lunch break, go hiking at weekends. Take time to enjoy what you see in nature.

Relax – download a meditation or hypnotic recording. Learn some relaxation techniques. A great one is to relax your shoulders and then breath in as you slowly count to five and out as you count to seven at the same speed. Repeat a few times.

Give back – research shows that helping others not only makes us feel better but it boosts our immune system. So help others, volunteer, give to charity, do whatever you can do to give back.

Laugh – watch comedies, go to comedy films, spend time with people who make you laugh.

OVER TO YOU – do you have any tricks you use to feel good? I’d love to know them. Tell me in the comments box.

Interesting article on Assertiveness in psychcentral.com

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/09/05/assertiveness-the-art-of-respecting-your-needs-while-also-respecting-others-needs/

What did you think of the article? I know that so many people worry that if they assertively state their needs they won’t be liked any more or will feel as if they are being selfish. But remember to treat yourself with the same respect you would treat others and you won’t go far wrong.

You’ll find many more tips in my book ‘How to be Assertive’, you’ll find it here.. http://goo.gl/bxQGxT

Five Basic Rules for Getting Along with Anyone, Anywhere

I recently read a great blog on this topic by Susan Karauss Whitbourne at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201508/five-basic-rules-getting-along-anyone-anywhere. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.

The ‘Acid Communication’ style she talks about is the same as the passive/aggressive style you’ll find discussed in my book ‘How to Be Assertive.’

Sex and Assertive Communication

I was amazed recently that a 24 year old woman I know had unprotected sex on holiday with a man she had just met. She didn’t insist on using condoms because ‘It’s embarrassing to talk about that sort of stuff.’ This professional and intelligent woman was prepared to risk pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases rather than state what she wanted. She’s not alone. Some research by the Assertive Sexual Communication Research Group found that of the students they studied, 33.79% of males and 41.87% of females reported feeling uncomfortable communicating something in a sexual situation. In the first of (at least) two blogs on this topic I list below four key steps to using assertiveness in intimate situations.

Key Step One – You have the right to say ‘No!’ Elizabeth Powell in her excellent book ‘Talking Back to Sexual Pressure’ lists 15 sexual rights we all have. A very important one is the right ‘to refuse any type of sexual contact, regardless of how aroused the partners might be.’ That’s right. Your partner is hot and ready, but that doesn’t mean you have to say ‘Yes’. You still have the right to say ‘no’, even if until then you have been enjoying some heavy petting. This is your right.

Key Step Two – Recognise manipulation I remember as a teenager being told all the tricks guys get up to to get you to agree to sex. Things like:

  • ‘If you love me, you’ll let me have sex,’
  • ‘You got me aroused, you’ve got to have sex with me now.’
  • ‘It’s not good for a guy to get this horny and not have sex’
  • ‘If you say no now, you’re a bitch.’

Don’t fall for it. It is manipulation. Try these assertive responses:

Their manipulation Your assertive response
If you love me, you’ll let me have sex I can love you, yet choose not to have sex with you.
You got me aroused, you’ve got to have sex with me now. I appreciate you are aroused, but I still don’t have to have sex with you.
It’s not good for a guy to get this horny and not have sex. If you are horny, go somewhere private and deal with it. I don’t want to have sex.
‘If you say no now, you’re a bitch. I’m not a bitch for saying no, and if you continue to call me names, I won’t see you again.

Key Step Three – Avoid risk situations Do you know that after a few drinks you are likely to do things you’ll later regret? If so, don’t drink in a situation where you may later wish you hadn’t had sex. Do you sometimes go to places where you may be unsafe? Walk alone late at night? It’s certainly true that you shouldn’t have to worry about these things, but sadly it is an absolute necessity.

Key Step Four – Ask for what you want If you are in an intimate situation, it’s okay to ask for what you want. Really. So, go ahead and say things like:

  • ‘Move your hand like this’
  • ‘Keep doing that, it’s great’
  • ‘Don’t do that, I don’t like it’
  • ‘Let’s just cuddle tonight’

Remember, while you have the right to make your request, the other person has the right to say ‘no’. The exception to this is if you ask them to stop doing something. Then you have the right to insist.

I’d love to read your comments on this article. Just type them in the box below.

Are you an imposter?

I was sitting over lunch with a very capable friend, I’ll call her Tessa. Although we’ve known each other for several years, we only catch up once every few months. But I have dealings with her professionally and know her to be highly professional and efficient. In fact, she’s a wonderful role model.

She was telling me that she had been offered a job out of the blue. Not only that, but the person was willing to wait for her to make up her mind and start in her own good time. The job wasn’t going to be advertised or offered to anyone else.

‘Wow, that’s a great vote of confidence.’ I said.

She went quiet and looked down at the floor. ‘I’m not sure I can do it.’ she whispered.

My jaw dropped. She’d told me about the job and I knew she could do it standing on her head.

‘You’re kidding.’

‘I thought if I took it I could always turn to you for advice if I got stuck.’ she replied.

Now, like I said, this is someone I look up to, not someone I expected to have the least insecurities about her ability. But she had.

‘Oh,’ I said, ‘you’ve got the imposter syndrome.’

Wikipedia defines this as a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Notably, impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.

Sound familiar to you? Do you expect to be caught out at any minute? For others to see through your accomplishments to the ‘real’ (useless) you?

Enough! Let’s explore some ways to overcome this debilitating problem that stops you being assertive and enjoying your life to the full.

How to overcome Imposter Syndrome

1. Accept compliments on your work. Don’t brush them aside or think ‘oh, she’s just being nice.’ In fact, go one step further. Get yourself a notebook and write down every compliment you get.

2. Think through the work you did to get that compliment. That work shows your capabilities. List the skills you used.

3. Stop talking yourself down. No more, ‘I only..’ or ‘I just..’ or ‘it’s nothing.’

4. Don’t think your success is down to luck. It isn’t. It’s down to your knowledge and experience.

5. Act as if you believe in yourself. We’re not talking about going round bragging, no need for that. But how about walking upright, using assertive body language and speech. That old adage of fake it till you make is often true.

6. List your accomplishments. Yes, even those that others don’t comment on. You’ll need that list when it comes to your performance review anyway. Review that list regularly to remind yourself of all that you’ve achieved.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll find that within a few months, you are beginning to believe that you are the capable, assertive person other people see.

Imagine how good that will feel.

Are you a People Pleaser?

 

How To Be Assertive
How To Be Assertive

Are you someone who loves to please people just because you like them? Or could it be that the real reason you want to please them is because you fear their disapproval?

Many people, especially women, suffer from the ‘please people syndrome’. This means they find it difficult to say ‘no’; to speak their mind when they disagree with others; to challenge people; to ask for what they want.

All this can lead to major stress because the please people person rarely gets their own needs met. This sometimes leads these passive people to get so frustrated that they eventually blow a gasket.

Let’s look at an example. John, that awkward bloke who sits near you at work, never washes up the mugs when it’s his turn. No-one else challenges him, and it’s often you who ends up doing it. Sometimes you become passive-aggressive and sigh loudly, clattering the mugs as you clean them, but you say nothing.

Each time this happens, you put a mental ‘saving stamp’ in a book marked ‘John’. Then one day you are tired or stressed and you notice the mugs need washing. This is the final stamp (read final straw!). You blow up. You shout at John, calling him all the names under the sun. He’s stunned. Okay, so he’s a bit lazy, but more often he’s forgetful.

‘If you’d reminded me, I’d have washing them. Honestly.’ he tells you.

You kind of believe him.

Now you feel bad. You never let John know you were angry with him. You assumed he would read your mind that you were upset, or at least get the idea from your exaggerated sighs. You feel guilty, and John feels hard-done-to.

Trouble is, if you’re a really passive person, you still won’t say anything when he forgets the next week (or the week after that). You’ll be there with your new savings book, putting ‘John’ stamps in it, until you blow up next time.

Solution?

Speak to someone gently as soon as they irritate you. Speaking out early on means that you will be in control of your emotions. They may not change their behaviour, of course. In that case, you may need to speak to them again; find another way round the problem or seek a more considered solution. It will depend on the situation.

Another thing to consider is whether you are sweating the small stuff – worrying about something that just isn’t that important. I used to worry about the loo seat being left up. But, hey, it’s really no big deal. I’ve thrown that stamp away and feel more relaxed for it.

I’d love to know if you are acting more assertively now. Perhaps you have some questions in relation to being assertive or would just like to comment on this blog. Do write in the comment box below.

My best wishes,

Patricia

How James’ faulty thinking made him panic

 

 

James opened the letter excitedly. Yes! 

He punched the air triumphantly. He’d done it. He’d got an interview for a job he really wanted. Now for the preparation. He’d already done quite a bit at the application stage. He’d researched the organisation and the vacancy. He’d worked out exactly how his skills matched those they needed. He’d worked out the questions they were likely to ask, based on the Person Specification. And he’d decided how he would answer them.

On the day of the interview, he looked great. Best suit and tie, new haircut, shiny shoes. He sat on the train reading through his notes again, feeling as confident as he could be.

Then the train ground to a halt.

James wasn’t worried, he’d got about half an hour leeway. Nonetheless, he found himself looking at his watch every minute or two. It was fully ten minutes later before an announcement came over the loudspeakers:

We apologise for the delay, ladies and gentlemen.This is due to an engine failure. Another train is on its way. It should be here in about forty minutes. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Groans were heard from every part of the carriage, James noticed. He also noticed that everyone then got on with what they were doing, reading; chatting; sleeping.

But not him.

His started to panic.

I’ll be late! They’ll think I’m hopeless! If I don’t get this job, I’ll be out of work for years! It’s taken me forty three applications to get this one interview. I’ll never get another! At my age, no-one will want to employ me.

He started to sweat, his breaths became shallower and faster, his heart raced and he felt faint. He couldn’t think straight.

James had been struck by faulty thinking – he was catastrophising.

Because of his negative assumptions that everything would be catastrophic, his thinking went haywire and he assumed the worst.

Catastrophic thinking will do that to you.

Eventually, James remembered that he read somewhere that taking a few deep breaths while relaxing your shoulders was a good way to get in control of your feelings. He tried it. To his surprise, it worked. He could think again.

He got out his mobile phone, called the company he was going to see and explained the situation. They agreed to add him to the end of their list of candidates for the day.

If you find yourself catastrophising, catch that thought. It stops you acting logically and assertively. Like James, take some deep breaths while you relax your body. Say to yourself Calm, calm. You’ll soon get back in control. Then you can work out what you can do about the situation.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What’s the worst that can happen?
  • How likely is it that the worst will happen?
  • What is more likely to happen?
  • How can I help myself now to deal with this situation?

Using these simple techniques can make your life a lot calmer. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?